ILAC made an assessment mission to Iraq in August 2003. The mission’s recommendations were made part of the proposal for judicial reconstruction put forward by the Iraqi Governing Council at the international donor’s conference for Iraq in Madrid in October 2003. In early 2004, with funding from UK and Sweden, ILAC embarked on a two-year programme of justice sector support for Iraq. This programme has subsequently been extended.

The ILAC Mission went to Iraq at the invitation of the UN Special Representative, the late Mr Sergio de Mello.

Five areas of assistance were identified which everyone agreed were of high priority:

1.    Training in independence of the judiciary and how   this informs the daily work of a judge. This project was led by the CEELI Institute in Prague and managed by the American Bar Association (ABA).

2.    A tour for the leadership of the Iraqi Judicial Training Institute to observe best judicial training practices in other countries with a similar judicial system. This project was led by the ABA’s Justice and Rule of Law Committee. The Iraqis were taken to the Ecole Superieure de la Magistrature in Bordeaux, France.

3.    Training in international human rights law for judges, prosecutors and lawyers, with a focus on fair trial and due process, led by International Bar Association (IBA) working with the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP).

4.    Direct assistance to the Iraqi Bar Council in strengthening entry standards, regulation of the profession and continuing legal education. The General Council of the Bar of England and Wales worked with IBA for this project.

5.    Training in international humanitarian law for  judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

The funding from the British government came to an end in early 2006, but continued funding from the Swedish government enabled IBA to organize further courses in Dubai for Iraqi judges in international humanitarian law during 2006 and 2007.

The funding provided by the goverments of UK and Sweden during 2004-2007 has enabled almost one thousand Iraqi judges, prosecutors and lawyers to undergo training under the ILAC-initiated Iraqi programme.

In addition, IBA and ILAC, together with the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes – which also provided the funding – have organized one-week workshops in Dubai for Iraqi judges and government officials, on the topic of the international legal anti-terrorism framework and on investigation techniques in terrorism-related crimes such as kidnapping, drug trafficking and money-laundering.

In 2008, ILAC was given a grant by the UN Democracy Fund with the purpose of extending training to Iraqi lawyers in private practice. The new training program is a joint effort between ILAC, IBA, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the CEELI Institute (affiliated with ABA), thus providing an excellent example of the kind of coordination and cooperation, for which ILAC was created. The first such training took place in Prague at the end of March 2009 and saw the participation of fifty Iraqi lawyers, flown in from Baghdad on a special charter flight.